William Paterson Faculty, Staff and their Families Receive Degrees

WP's own graduates included many faculty and staff and their families who have earned their degrees from William Paterson University

Davonna100Davonna Approvato, professional services specialist for major gifts, Office of Institutional Advancement, will earn an MBA with a concentration in music management in August. As part of a team project with her classmates, Approvato is proud of having developed an effective business-to-business strategy for a small business in Jersey City. “With the dedicated work of my teammates and the guidance of Professor Mike Chao, we took a theoretical project and turned it into an opportunity to apply what we were learning in class and provide value to the business owners,” she says.

Garcia_Canilao100Rebecca A. Canilao, daughter of Carlos Alfredo Garcia, an adjunct professor in Languages and Cultures, graduated this May with a BA in communication and a minor in public relations. Canilao plans to attend graduate school at William Paterson. She is most proud of being a mother of two children, attending college full time and graduating with honors. Last December, her brother Nicholas Alfredo Garcia graduated from William Paterson with a BS degree in physical education.

Cano100Carlos Cano, assistant director of admissions recruitment in Undergraduate Admissions, will earn an MA in higher education administration and a concentration in leadership studies this August. He credits all of the higher education faculty, including Professors Alford, Wilder, Noonan and Orr, for helping him expand his knowledge and approach in the field of higher education. “Being a two-time graduate of WP is a badge of honor for me,” says Cano, who received his undergraduate degree from William Paterson in 2009. “I love WP. I love being a Pioneer!”

DAlia100Salvatore D’Alia, son of Angela D’Alia in the Auto Shop, graduated this May with a BS degree in environmental science and a minor in anthropology. D’Alia completed internships with the EPA and the New Jersey Audubon Society. He is currently working for Clean Earth. D’Alia’s aunt, Barbara D’Alia, and his uncle, John D’Alia, are also alumni of William Paterson. D’Alia looks forward to working in different areas of the environmental field with a goal of eventually working for the EPA.

DaveyRabbitt100Claire Davey, daughter of Kara M. Rabbitt, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, will graduate this August with a BA degree in political science and a minor in legal studies. This summer she will participate in William Paterson’s Cambridge Summer Program at St. Edmund’s College, part of Cambridge University in England. Davey has been inducted into the national political science honors society and is a founding member of the the Phi Theta Sigma Honors Law fraternity. She is a tutor at the University’s Writing Center. This semester, she was an intern at Senator Cory Booker’s office in Newark where she was responsible for data entry, writing memos, drafting letters and scheduling. Davey plans to apply to year-long public policy fellowships post-graduation before attending law school.

DeGeorge100Alena Marie DeGeorge, program assistant in Student Enrollment Services, will graduate in August 2017 with an MA in higher education administration and a concentration in student development. DeGeorge is a member of the Kappa Delta Pi honor society in the field of education. Employed at William Paterson for more than three years, DeGeorge pursued her master’s degree to support and develop her career in higher education.

LavineGass100Lavene Gass, program assistant in the Office of University Performing Arts, graduated in May with an MBA in entrepreneurship. Gass has written, directed and produced two theatre productions, Pearls and PoeJazztry, which both garnered media attention. She also wrote, directed and produced the short film titled Consciously Unconscious that was featured in the 2015 Passaic County Film Festival. She is currently pursuing an entrepreneurial route by conducting personal and professional development seminars.

JJennings100Jami Jennings, secretarial assistant, Department of Nursing, graduated in January 2017 with an MBA. Jennings is the daughter-in-law of Sue Jennings, retired secretarial assistant from Student Development. One of her proudest moments at William Paterson was participating in the 50th anniversary celebration of the Department of Nursing. “I am proud to be part of such a great team,” she adds.

Liverman100Yakema T. Liverman, assistant to the associate director of residence life for housing operations, Department of Residence Life, graduated in May with a BA degree in psychology and a minor in women’s studies. She is a member of the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. An employee at William Paterson for the last 11 years, Liverman says that pursuing her degree was rewarding. “I was able to learn from each experience in the role of staff, colleague and as a student. The experience helped me build closer relationships on campus as well as in the community,” she says. Liverman plans to pursue her graduate degree.

Mbayo100Fengai Mbayo, a maintenance worker in Facilities and Maintenance, graduated this May with a BS degree in public health, magna cum laude. He completed a research project on adult obesity and an internship at the Passaic Valley Water Commission. “William Paterson is one of the best universities in New Jersey to work for,” says Mbayo. “As a full-time worker, husband and a father of two beautiful princesses, graduating with an honors degree is my proudest accomplishment at William Paterson.” Mbayo plans to enroll in the master’s program in public health in the fall.

Micciche100Daniela Micciche, administrative assistant, Residence Life, will graduate in August 2017 with an MA in higher education administration. She is a member of the Pi Lambda Theta Honor Society. Micciche extends a big thank you to her entire department in Residence Life. “They are my biggest cheerleaders and have supported me throughout this whole program. I also could not have done this without my cohort!”


Racheal Neufville Pleasant, legal assistant to the general counsel, Office of the General Counsel, since 2012, graduated this May with an MBA in marketing. She received the “Outstanding MBA Graduate Award with a Concentration in Marketing” from the Cotsakos College of Business. “I would like to thank Glenn Jones, general counsel, for his encouraging words and constant support throughout this journey,” says Pleasant.

OrtizA_Alene Ortiz, a budget analyst in the Budget Department, graduated in May with a BA degree in economics. She has been employed in the department for 17 years. A non-traditional student, Ortiz is proud to have obtained her degree a year after her daughter graduated from TCNJ, and proved that “it’s possible to earn a degree at any age.”  

RebiszA_100Ashley Rebisz, administrative assistant, Health and Wellness Center, is graduating in August 2017 with an MA in higher education administration with a concentration in student development. She is a member of Pi Lambda Theta, the international honor society in education, and became a peer leader in August 2016. Her brother, Wesley Rebisz, graduated with his MBA in finance in May 2016. Rebisz enjoys helping freshmen transition into college by teaching in the Pioneer Success Seminar for the Office of First Year Experience, and aims to become an academic advisor or career counselor.

Reyes100bEva G. Reyes, program assistant, Student Enrollment Services, will receive her MA in higher education administration in August 2017. In 2015, Reyes earned a BA in Spanish from William Paterson. She is a member of the Tau Sigma National Honor Society, the Sigma Delta Pi Hispanic Honor Society, and is a recipient of the Catarina T. Feldman Award. “I am most proud that I was able to go back to school after nine years and finish both my BA and MA within a five-year time period while being a single mother, working full-time, and maintaining a strong GPA,” says Reyes. She looks forward to advancing her career in higher education and becoming an academic advisor.

TorressJ100Johanna Torres, associate director, Student Enrollment Services, earned an MBA this May. Torres is a member of the Cotsakos College of Business MBA Roundtable, Dean’s Student Advisory Board, and Director’s Council. She obtained her MBA to support and advance her career in higher education, and is most proud of her accomplishments in helping to support student experience in William Paterson’s Office of Student Enrollment Services.

Vidal100Jessica R. Vidal, daughter of Rosemarie Vidal, HR assistant in Human Resources, graduated this May with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and financial planning, magna cum laude.  A dean’s list student, Vidal completed two accounting internships, and served as vice president of accounting in Alpha Kappa Psi, a chapter of the Beta Gamma Sigma national honor society for business. Vidal has accepted a full-time position as audit associate at SAX LLP in Clifton.

Wilsons100Nalani Wilson, daughter of Frank Wilson, a member of the University’s Department of Police for 27 years, graduated this May with a BA in political science and psychology, cum laude, with a minor in legal studies. Wilson is a member of the Phi Theta Sigma pre-law fraternity.  She will be attending William Paterson’s public policy and international affairs graduate program in the fall, and then plans to attend law school.

Zolla100Melissa Zolla, assistant director of campus visit experience, Undergraduate Admissions, will graduate this August with an MA in higher education administration and a concentration in student development. Working in the department for nearly three years, Zolla found that working with college students is truly her passion and completing a graduate degree was part of her path toward reaching her goals. She was also proud of having presented research at the annual NASPA conference in March.